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The Writers Forum at SUNY Brockport

Rita Dove -- Poet

Host(s): Stan Sanvel Rubin and Judith Kitchen

Tape order number: V-239

Visit Date: March 7, 1985

Length: 46 minutes

Published as:

  • "A Conversation with Rita Dove." Rubin and Earl G. Ingersoll. Black Literature Forum 20 (1986):227.
  • "The Underside of the Story: A Conversation with Rita Dove." The Post-Confessionals. Earl Ingersoll, Judith Kitchen, and Stan Sanvel Rubin, Eds. Cranbury, NJ: Associated U P, 1989, 151-65.

Brief Summary: Dove discusses her fascination with the unseen and insignificant details of historical events and individual lives. This interest in the less celebrated moments of experience shaped Museum and Thomas and Beulah. Her careful attention to language, form, structure, and organization in her work is revealed throughout the interview. She talks about the crafting of "Parsely" as well as the organization of Museum. Dove says she doesn't want the reader to know what is coming in a book. She says the worst thing that can happen to a poet is to be self-conscious because it interferes with the creative process. She tries not to "clutter her head" with too much literary critique and theory, particularly when she is composing.

Work(s) Discussed:

  • The Yellow House on the Corner
  • Museum
  • Thomas and Beulah

Work(s) Read:

  • "Parsley"
  • "Delft"
  • "Anti-Father"
  • "Dusting"
  • "Variation on Pain"

Writers mentioned:

  • Mallarmé

The way we perceive things is circumscribed by our ability to express those things.

-- Rita Dove

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